Noun-Verb Constructions

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Noun Incorporation[edit]

It is possible to incorporate a noun into the verb in Bininj Kunwok. Not all nouns can be incorporated (see Incorporable Nouns for a list) and when they are they can be either the subject or the object of the verb. Meaning is completely predictable though and incorporation is optional. For example, 'I eat meat' can be said in two ways:



nga-ngun kunkanj
I-eat meat

You'll note that when the noun is incorporated, the noun classifier (its gender prefix) is removed, thus kunkanj -> kanj.

In the above example, the incorporated noun 'meat' is the object of the verb. Nouns incorporated into verbs that don't take an object such as 'swim', 'fall' or 'fly' (intransitive verbs), are the subject. Below we see how the incorporated noun can also be the subject of the verb:

'a tree falls'


kundulk ka-mankan
tree it-fall
'a tree falls'

Body part incorporation[edit]

Many body parts and bodily products can be incorporated into the verb in Bininj Kunwok. For example:

'I have a headache'

Not all body parts and matter can be incorporated though, see Incorporable Nouns for a list.

There are two rules to incorporating body parts that will help with identifying the owner of the body part:
Rule 1: When only the subject is expressed in the pronominal prefix, the body part belongs to the subject.
Rule 2: When there is also an object expressed in the pronominal prefix, the body part belongs to the object.

'I hit my head'


'you hit my head' or 'you hit me on the head'


Meaning is more specific than might be predicted, and we cannot use a full noun instead

  • nga-bo-ngun, drink (but not nga-ngun kukku, drink water)